The Following resolution was adopted by a 5-2-0 show of hands vote by ANC 4B at its June 27, 2011 regular public meeting:
“WHEREAS a new Walmart store has been proposed for the Curtis Chevrolet site located at Square 2986, Georgia and Missouri Avenues N.W.;
WHEREAS Foulger-Pratt (“Developer”) submitted a Large Tract Review (LTR) application to the D.C. Office of Planning (OP) in March 2011.
WHEREAS this LTR is for a completely different proposal from the previous LTR submitted by Foulger-Pratt on December 1, 2008 and therefore should be submitted as a new LTR and not as an amendment to the previous one;
WHEREAS this proposed development is located within the boundaries of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B (the “Commission”) and will have major impacts on the quality of life of the neighborhoods adjacent to it, especially, for example, the Florian Cooperative and nearby single-family homes;
WHEREAS according to the provisions of the District of Columbia Code: Division 1, Government of District: Title 1 Government Organization, Chapter 3 Specified Governmental Authority, Subchapter V. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1-309.10(a), 1-309.10(d)(3)(A), 1-309.10(d)(3)(B) and 1-309.10(d)(3)(C), it is therefore our understanding that ANCs have “great weight” regarding planning and street issues;
WHEREAS the goals of the LTR regulations are to a) “minimize adverse environmental, traffic and neighborhood impacts,” b) “avoid unnecessary public costs in terms of new services or facilities required of city agencies,” and c) “carry out the policies of the…Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital;” (See Title 10, Chapter 23, Large Tract Review Procedures)
WHEREAS the “Scope of Review” detailed in the LTR regulations requires that city agencies consider a) “consistency with the laws in the District of Columbia, including the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital and regulations enacted pursuant thereto,” b) “potential traffic, neighborhood and design impact” and c) “quality of life and environmental impact” in assessing the LTR submission; (See Title 10, Chapter 23, Large Tract Review Procedures)
WHEREAS the Office of Planning (OP) extended the comment deadline to June 30 so that ANC 4B could review DDOT’s revised comments, but ANC 4B has not officially received these comments from DDOT nor from OP, and did not receive traffic study data included in the appendix of the April 2011 DDOT comments.
WHEREAS, ANC 4B should receive and review comments from the other agencies detailed in the OP document, “Snapshot of the Large Tract Review Process,” before making a decision, but did not. These agencies are the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Department of Public Works, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of the Environment, the Water and Sewer Authority, and the Department of Housing and Community Development.
WHEREAS it is expected that approximately 61 acres of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center will be redeveloped to serve city needs and, therefore, may generate even more vehicular traffic;
WHEREAS the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has found that the intersection at Georgia and Missouri is a failed intersection, and the additional traffic generated by the proposed Walmart would increase the urgency to reconstruct the intersection in order to handle the significant increase in traffic.
WHEREAS the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Metrobus service for that site runs primarily north and south, and potential customers also live and travel from points east and west of Square 2986;
WHEREAS the “Complete Streets” concepts, which would accommodate biking, walking, public transit and freight movement, are being promoted by the Council of Governments for Washington DC, as well as for all other communities within its purview;
WHEREAS the bulk, massing, landscape and detail of the proposed Walmart building appears to be essentially a scaled-down version of Walmart’s suburban and rural style stores and does not take into consideration the history and character of the community;
WHEREAS the old car barn, constructed in 1909 and originally used to service street cars, is an important link marking the history of the development of the area;
WHEREAS the Commission established a special committee to address the Walmart proposal, which included community residents, businesses and planning professionals;
WHEREAS, these reports are attached for review and consideration;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that ANC 4B would not support the Walmart LTR unless the recommendations below are incorporated into the project.
However, due to our incomplete receipt of traffic study information as well as the key DDOT report promised by OP by June 14 and from other crucial agencies specified in the OP document, “Snapshot of the Large Tract Review Process,” we reserve the right to make additional comments.
A. Community Involvement and Consultation Recommendations For Community Benefits Agreement and Legislative and Administrative Action
Walmart should sign a binding and enforceable Community Benefits Agreement that will spell out its commitments with respect to hiring and employment practices, workforce training, contracting, transportation and traffic mitigation, environmentally sound building practices, public safety, small business assistance, community input, and financial support for on-going community programs. These recommendations are detailed throughout this resolution.
Walmart and the Developer must agree to the formation of a Community Advisory Committee composed of residents of the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the location of the development, including residents of 4B04, the 4B04 Commissioner, the ANC 4B Chair or ANC designees. 4B04 residents should make up one third of the Committee. “Immediately adjacent to” is defined as residents located within 1,000 feet of the development. This Community Advisory Committee shall have the following responsibilities if the store opens:
(a) Meet with Walmart on a regular basis (at least once a month) before, during and after construction of the project;
(b) Monitor construction activities and advise Walmart on measures to mitigate negative impacts of construction activities on neighborhood quality of life;
(c) Monitor impacts of traffic flow, traffic congestion and advise Walmart, DDOT, MPD and other relevant DC agencies on measures to mitigate adverse conditions;
(d) Monitor Walmart’s compliance with any community benefits agreements entered into by Walmart with the District government and the community, and advise appropriate agencies of any issues, problems or concerns;
(e) Monitor security management, site management and maintenance and all other activities potentially impacting neighborhood quality of life;
(f) Walmart shall commit to provide to the Community Advisory Committee all documents and other information necessary for the Committee to meet its responsibilities, to meet regularly with the Committee, and to make Walmart management personnel available for Committee consultations,meetings, and decisions.
B. Site Plan and Development Recommendations
1. Walmart should provide a three-dimensional model of the proposed store and neighboring buildings as depicted in the published plans. This model should be shown at community and government meetings and hearings and altered as plans are revised. This would help residents and government officials visualize the proposal and its impact on the community.
2. Foulger-Pratt should create a phased development program for the site, constructing the building in such a way as to allow for the addition of upper-story housing at a later date, as both economic circumstances and demand warrant.
3. This will necessitate some redesign of the building including the possibility of some increase in parking beyond that required by the proposed retail use to service the addition of upper story housing at some point in the future. (The truss-style roof of the streetcar barn likely couldn’t be retained in a future redevelopment phase.)
4. Building the capacity for mixed use development in the future may necessitate some DC Government financing to encourage this preferred course of development on the site.
5. The Commission recommends that the OP and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development discuss and finalize with the developers a commitment to sign a 20-year or shorter lease term. This is more commensurate with typical time frames for redeveloping similar properties.
6. Economic impact to the city of a single use vs. a mixed use project further justifies a preference for a mixed use project at this site and further supports a shorter lease term.
C. Building Design Recommendations
1. Walmart should present an architectural design that is compatible with and enhances the better features of the historic architecture and character of the surrounding community;
2. Walmart should present a design which incorporates the existing structure of the car barn into the architecture of a new building or buildings on that site in a highly visible and identifiable way, such as building around it and featuring it in the internal design of the building;
3. Walmart should reorganize the design and operation of the store so that separate departments of the store, such as the grocery department, prepared food counters (e.g., most Walmarts have a quick service food counter, with tables and chairs), are placed with entrances on Georgia Avenue, thereby punctuating the façade, providing more openings, and more reasons to walk along the entire block of the Georgia Avenue frontage, and better connecting this large scale building to the otherwise relatively small scale and punctuated streetscape that currently defines Georgia Avenue.
4. The Missouri Avenue elevation especially, but the Peabody Street elevation and street parking as well, should be redesigned to better engage with the street in keeping with urban design principles focused on creating great storefront, walkable streets, and street experiences on the first floors of buildings in urban commercial districts.
D. Transportation Demand Management Recommendations
1. Walmart should provide a shuttle service between their store and the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro Station and the Ft. Totten Metro station, or negotiate with WMATA, the Circulator, or a private bus company to do so.
2. Walmart should offer delivery services for all transactions totaling at least $50.
3. Walmart should make home delivery services a routine and standard part of their service offering in urban/center city store locations, not just at the Georgia Avenue location, but in all the stores in DC.
4. Walmart should agree to explore with DDOT setting up a shared parking situation with the on-site customer parking spaces, perhaps through the creation of a “transportation management district” to manage this and other transportation demand management initiatives in both this and the Walter Reed commercial nodes on Georgia Avenue.
5. Walmart should provide Metro Smartcards, transit and/or other transportation benefits to employees to limit the number of trips employees make to the store by car.
6. Foulger-Pratt and Walmart should sign an agreement with the Florian Cooperative and other adjacent property owners.
7. Walmart should agree to not receive deliveries during morning (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.) and evening (3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) rush-hour traffic periods.
8. The LTR Transportation Study submitted by Walmart assumes that all trucks making deliveries to the proposed store will travel south from the Capital Beltway via New Hampshire Avenue, and then make a right turn onto Missouri Avenue NW and another right turn into the site. Walmart must explain (a) the reasons for its assumption that there will never be any delivery trucks travelling on Georgia Avenue and (b) assuming that some delivery vehicles may occasionally travel on Georgia Avenue, Walmart must specify in writing what route these trucks would take to avoid making a left turn into the site across Missouri Avenue especially considering cases where Missouri Avenue traffic is blocked on the Walmart street side or blocked on both sides of the street due to snow, flood, police or traffic emergency, etc.
E. Traffic Circulation Recommendations
1. The Commission supports the developer proposal to add six feet to the width of the street on the south side of the 900 block of Peabody Street, along the entire length of Lot 35.
2. Walmart should employ security to monitor the parking lot and all other areas of the store. A weatherized booth should be incorporated as part of the parking lot entrance to allow security personnel to monitor the lot and the surrounding street. The structure should include an automated system to alert prospective customers attempting to park in the Walmart garage when the parking lot is full.
3. Install a traffic diverter midway in the 900 block of Peabody Street, between the “Curtis” section and the residential section of Square 2986 to ease customer traffic into and out of the Walmart development without imposing on the residential portion of the block and to eliminate cut-through traffic on Peabody Street.
4. Consider adding angled parking by permit only to the eastern section of the 900 block of Peabody Street, NW, the cost of which should be borne by the developer. Eliminate public parking on the north side of the western section (i.e., west of the diverter) of Peabody Street, NW, alongside the police station, to provide parking spaces for the Fourth District police cars.
5. Eliminate public parking on the north side of the western section (i.e., west of the diverter) of Peabody Street, NW, the cost of which should be borne by the developer.
6. Put restrictions on through-traffic between Blair Road and Georgia Avenue, at least for Peabody (if a diverter is not installed) and Quackenbos Streets, and maybe Rittenhouse Street, with recurring enforcement efforts, to limit the impact of the Walmart store in terms of generating cut-through traffic on residents.
7. Walmart must develop a traffic congestion mitigation plan that specifies the measures that will be taken by Walmart to address congestion or backups in their entrances and driveways that may occur from vehicle breakdowns, accidents, or other causes.
F. Transportation Planning and Engineering Recommendations
1. We believe that despite DDOT’s recommendations, dated June 24, 2011, the intersection at Georgia and Missouri needs to be reconstructed to meet the increased traffic that this project will generate. Walmart, in consultation with DC government officials, should pay for the cost to reconstruct the Georgia Avenue-Missouri Avenue intersection to improve its geometry and capacity and to reduce congestion. This will prove to be an important investment to mitigate traffic congestion, revitalize Georgia Avenue and Upper Northwest DC, and is an investment with a multi-decade impact.
2. The DC government should present a clearer multi-modal access plan which will support a more walkable, bike-able community, with special attention to comfortable pedestrian walkways and safe bike lanes which connect to other bike lanes in the vicinity;
3. The DC government should prioritize and commence the planning, design, and engineering for streetcar service on Georgia Avenue, in order to reduce the negative traffic impact that would otherwise occur. This is an energy-efficient mode of transportation as there is currently limited transit service in the corridor (bus only), north of New Hampshire Avenue to Downtown Silver Spring and to the Silver Spring Metro Station.
4. The DC government should make sure that current road construction projects along Georgia Avenue incorporate streetcar tracks to support the development of the streetcar service and to reduce the need for later and more costly reconstruction.
5. The DC government should allocate funds and commence planning for the creation of the Kennedy Street to Walter Reed section of the Georgia Avenue Great Streets Master Plan.
G. Safety Recommendation
Walmart should be required to submit a safety and security management plan including, and with special attention to the store’s parking lot before a certificate of occupancy is issued for the operation of the store. Special considerations should be provided concerning special sales events and holiday periods.
H. Neighborhood Economic Impact Recommendations
1. OP should conduct a more detailed and complete analysis of the neighborhood economic impact of a Walmart general merchandise/supermarket combination store in Ward 4, as a legitimate interpretation of the provisions of the LTR process concerning minimization of adverse neighborhood impacts. If potentially negative impacts cannot be expected to be reasonably mitigated, denial of the application in whole or in part could potentially be justified.
2. As agreed to by Walmart representatives in public meetings, Walmart should agree in writing not to apply for or receive the tax benefits and incentives available to supermarkets and grocery stores in the District of Columbia.
3. A mitigation program should be created to manage the entry of Walmart into the Georgia Avenue corridor generally, and into the Missouri Avenue-Piney Branch Road commercial district node specifically, which will limit potentially negative impacts on retailers. This should be done, to the extent possible, in a proactive manner through various commercial district revitalization activities and should be funded by the developer and/or Walmart.
4. Funds should be made available for technical assistance to merchants, façade improvement projects, marketing, financial management, and other initiatives, in advance of (and after) the opening of the Walmart store, to better prepare retailers to face and address competition. (The Main Street commercial district revitalization program, such as the program in Old Takoma, serving both DC and Maryland, is one such model for this type of program.)
5. A revitalization coordinator should be hired and paid for by Walmart/Foulger-Pratt for at least a three year period to develop and manage this program in association with merchants, residents, and other stakeholders. This person could be assigned to work as part of the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development and/or OP or related agencies.
6. A master database of all commercial properties should be created, with data on lease terms, property size, building condition, revenue potential/square footage and other relevant information, for use in the execution of this program.
7. A recruitment and development program to attract new businesses and new development should be executed simultaneously with the development and implementation of the technical assistance and support program for extant businesses and properties.
8. Part of the mitigation program should include the creation of promotional materials for the Missouri Avenue to Piney Branch Road commercial node on Georgia Avenue.
I. Community Benefits Recommendation
1. The Commission recommends that “Community Benefits” be divided into the following 4 sections:
a. Mitigate the impact of and design the physical structure and operations so that it is safe, efficient, effective and “green” (i.e., environmentally sound), especially regarding traffic and transportation, and public safety.
b. Establish and implement hiring and employment policies which ensure equitable treatment and promotion based on merit, as well as make a special effort to train and hire local contractors and employees, including those with conditions and personal histories which generally make it difficult for them to find steady work.
c. Develop technical assistance and training programs for local businesses surrounding Square 2986 in cooperation with appropriate education and training institutions in DC.
d. Structure a section of the Walmart Foundation to accept applications for grants for the public benefit of DC residents. The applications must meet a set of conditions to be determined, and applications would be accepted only after the store is open for business.
e. The Community Benefits Agreement, developed by the Community subcommittee, is attached and is part of these recommendations.
J. Recommendations for Rectifying Gaps in Planning and Zoning Regulations
1. DC should impose impact fees on new development. The collection of such monies is a fair and equitable way to address the mitigation of project impacts and a viable source of income to reimburse the District government for the cost of the new infrastructure and services required by new development. Area jurisdictions, Including Montgomery County, already do this successfully.
2. The LTR process does not adequately address the potentially negative economic impact of projects generally. The LTR process is also deficient because it is essentially advisory, without the ability to directly mandate action or deny approval. These defects in the LTR process should be addressed and the process made more robust.
3. DC should create a new mandatory review process (“Large Retail Impact Review”) to address the various economic and other impacts of large scale retail projects in excess of 75,000 square feet.
4. The LTR regulations should be amended to require that all residents, businesses, and property owners within 1,000 feet of a property subject to an LTR receive written notification of the submission, what the review includes, and the deadline for comment.
5. Arguably, the Georgia Avenue site on Square 2986 does not currently have the capacity to meet the demands of uses generating great numbers of automobile trips, and therefore high traffic generating uses should not be located there unless and until that condition is successfully addressed. Land use and building use approval processes should include provisions for linking use approvals to sites with the capacity to satisfy transportation demand to a great extent through the use of already extant transportation infrastructure. The “ABC” planning process employed in the Netherlands is a model for how this could be done in practice. “